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Friday, 30 March 2018

The final countdown for Brexit

MADRID: At 11pm London time a year from now, Britain will be leaving the European Union.
March 29, 2019 – as the clock strikes midnight in Brussels – is Brexit day.

Although many details about the future relationship between the United Kingdom and the remaining 27 members of the European Union remain uncertain, this much we do know:
Departure date

British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty – the only means to leave the EU – a year ago, setting up the two-year negotiation period to work out a divorce deal. This date is defined in EU law and can only be extended through agreement by all 28 member states.
Withdrawal terms
An interim deal was struck in December on the priority issues of the separation — Britain’s financial settlement, the Irish border and citizens’ rights.
Britain has agreed to pay into the EU budget until the end of 2020 and meet its share of commitments made in the past, making the overall cost €40 billion (Dh182 billion), with the payments to be spread out until 2068.
The deal also states that EU citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in the EU before exit day would be able to claim permanent residency status for themselves and their families.
The Irish border
On Ireland, London has committed to avoid a “hard border” with checkpoints between British-ruled Northern Ireland and EU-member Ireland, which all sides agree is vital to maintaining the 1998 Good Friday peace accords.
Prime Minister May has conceded that the EU’s “backstop” proposal, in which Northern Ireland stays in a customs union with the EU post-Brexit, could be a possible solution.
EU leaders will assess the UK’s proposals for the border in June.
Post-Brexit transition
The United Kingdom and the European Union have agreed on the terms of a transition period to help ease the withdrawal and avoid a post-Brexit “cliff edge”.
The deal effectively maintains Britain’s ties with the EU until December 2020, although it will have no voting rights.
During this period London would keep paying into the EU budget as planned, trade on the same terms and accept European rules and regulations.
Citizens’ rights
London will also grant any EU citizens arriving in the United Kingdom during the transition period the same rights as those arriving earlier, but it will be able to sign trade deals with countries outside the European Union, which can come into force in 2021.
The UK prime minister came under fire from fishermen after agreeing to let the European Union continue to set quotas and allow European fishing vessels into British waters.
Future relationship
May confirmed Britain will leave the European single market and customs union, calling instead for a free trade agreement “covering more sectors and co-operating more fully than any free trade agreement anywhere in the world today”.
She has rejected existing models of trading relationships as they would require Britain to maintain free movement of workers, EU judicial oversight or give up its right to strike trade deals with other countries.
The prime minister says she wants a “bespoke” deal, but the European Union has warned that Britain cannot cherry-pick what it wants.

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